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Family #3

We Will Be Kind, Bring Joy, and Honor Each Other

Church Family #3

We have recently been thinking about various characteristics families are to have. Since we are a church family, the characteristics we have discussed should describe us.

The characteristics? Let’s say them together to make it easier for all of us to remember them. Our church family will love one another. Our church family will pray for one another. Our church family will serve one another. Our church family will tell the truth to each other. Our church family will be patient with each other. Our church family will forgive one another.

The word “will” is important. It makes each statement a challenge. These are things we should do. Things we are to do as a family. Let’s take the challenge and make sure we as a church family are doing these things. Each of the characteristics is critical for a body - for a church family, including this one - to be healthy. 

For today, in this third part of a three-part series of messages, three more characteristics. Again let’s say them together. Our church family will be kind to one another. Our church family will bring joy to each other. Our church family will honor each other.

Our church family will be kind to one another.

This one has been mentioned before in this series of messages. It came up with the challenge that we tell the truth to each other. In Colossians 3, there is a list of bad things to put away. To refresh our memories, those things include anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk - and lying. 

And there is a list of good things we are put on. To refresh our memories, the good things include compassion, lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness - and kindness.

What is the definition of kindness? Here is a composite of definitions. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It is being courteous. It is making sure the good of others is as dear to us as is our own good. Kindness is the steadfast love that maintains relationships even in times of need. It is readiness to help. It is goodness and gentleness in action. And this. Kindness is the ability to act for the welfare even of those who tax our patience.

It is interesting that so many of the characteristics we have discussed are inter-related. For instance, we will not be kind unless we love one another. We are being kind when we serve one another. It is kind to tell other people the truth. Kindness is shown when we are patient with each other.

Kindness is one of the good things we are to put on. That is needed individually. As we each do that, we will, as a church family, be able to thrive in being friendly, generous, considerate, and courteous, which is important so we will all be helped to continue to grow in our faith.

The challenge to be kind is also found in Zechariah 1: In that part of that Old Testament book, the word of God is recorded. God said, “Show mercy to your fellow people of God” - for us, fellow Christians. “Do not oppress widows, orphans, travelers, or the poor. Instead, show kindness.” Again, be friendly, generous, considerate, courteous to others. That is what is needed in this and every other church group.

I looked online for examples of church-related kindness. Here is a list I found of ways to be kind. Think about which of these you do or can do.

Ask someone how he or she is doing. Really doing, as in not accepting just the usual “I am fine” response. and then really listen to the response.

Be nice, even to those you may have trouble getting along with. That is tough, but something we are to do.

Write your Sunday School teacher to thank her or him.

Cook a meal for someone.

Encourage someone who seems despondent.

Help a mother carry her baby stroller or an adult with mobility issues carry a wheelchair from the parking lot to the church. Or hold a door open. Help a fellow Christian fix a car that has broken down or help with yard work.

Listen when fellow Christians are talking.

Share with others a favorite Bible passage.

Say a prayer for someone in the church

Say “please” and “thank you,” and mean it.

Call a child - or an adult - who could use some extra attention.

Kindness can be shown to anyone of any age and any station in the church family. Here is a quote from Max Lucado. “I choose kindness, I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone, kind to the rich, for they are afraid, kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.”

Our church family is supposed to be kind to one another. I think we are. I hope we are. I trust we will continue to be kind.

Our church family will bring joy to each other.

For this one, both an Old Testament and a New Testament verse.

The Old Testament verse is Proverbs 17:22. Remember that the Book of Proverbs is filled with usually short teachings on every aspect of living. Listen to the first part of Proverbs 17:22. “A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”

The teaching in those words is that joy is important. When we as a church family are joyful with each other, we are all going to be healthier, perhaps physically, but also spiritually. Especially since our joy is to be in the Lord.

Of course, not always and every day will we necessarily feel joyful individually. There are days of sorrow or disappointment or ill health that come to all of us. Those days can drag us down. That is when we need others in our church family to encourage us, which can be done by sharing joy. Not mindless or overbearing joy, but the kind of joy that will add comfort.

As I worked on this part of the message, I remembered high school. There were a few days when I was kind of moody. I had a study hall in the band room. The band room had a record player. Yes, my high school years were that long ago. Many days the record player was on. Every now and then - it always seemed to be the days I was grumpy - someone put on a record of laughter. Nothing but laughter, one person starting, then a couple others joining in, eventually a huge crowd laughing. At those times, I tried as hard as I could to not even smile. I wanted to stay grumpy. I could not do it. Every time I joined the laughter on the record.

Joy is contagious. It is something we are to share with others. Again, not just meaningless laughter, but encouragement even on difficult days. Especially on those days, a merry heart is a good medicine.

The rest of 17:22 tells the other side. “A downcast spirit dries up the bones.” If sadness is allowed to take hold, the body suffers. That often happens physically. It can happen spiritually as well. That is true in our human bodies. It is also true with our church body. Elsewhere we are taught to weep with those who weep. That can be an act of kindness. But we are also taught to rejoice with those who rejoice.

We are, as a church family, to bring joy to each other. That is also taught in the New Testament Book of Philemon. In verse 7 of the book’s only chapter are these words, “For I [this was Paul writing] have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.”

A source of Paul’s joy was the effective ministry Philemon had done. As recorded earlier in Book of Philemon, his ministry displayed his love and faith in Jesus. It displayed his loving and faithful sharing of the word of God with saints - with fellow Christians. The effectiveness of Philemon’s ministry was already promoting Christian knowledge. That brought joy to Paul. Paul’s prayer was that Philemon’s ministry would continue to be strong. The suggestion is that the continuation would bring more joy to Paul.

How does that apply to us as a church family? How about this? As we see others in this congregation ministering - not just preaching and not just teaching in Bible study or Sunday School, all of which are important and are things that are to also bring us joy as we see faith in Jesus being promoted - but when we see others ministering, we are to have joy that we are together in helping others to grow in our Christian faith.

How are others ministering in our congregation? There are many more than the ones I will list, and I apologize if I leave something out that is important to you. 

How about all the people who minister each year at Vacation Bible School with teaching, and leading music, and being group leaders, and helping with crafts and recreation, and bringing food and serving food, and setting up the decorations and cleaning up afterwards? Like Paul, we can be filled with joy when we see others serve for the cause of Christ.

How about those who visit hospitals? There is quite a bit of that going on. As that happens, Jesus is represented.

Some of us serve lunch at the People’s City Mission once a month. Those served know we represent a church, which means they know we represent the Lord. Some in the long-term men’s shelter have seen us regularly. I know they are at least reminded of the love of Jesus. We can rejoice over the ministry at the Mission.

Calls and cards are sent to encourage people spiritually.

Some provide rides to services or special events.

There is a lot a ministering going on by many people in our church family. As Paul was joyful with what Philemon did, so can we be joyful, knowing what we are doing. May our joy be a good medicine for us, individually and as a church family.

Our church family will be kind to one another. Our church family will bring joy to each other.

Our church family will honor each other.

Romans 12:10. “Outdo one another in showing honor.”

There are a few parts to that elsewhere in Romans 12. We are not to contend for superiority, but instead help others be recognized. We are to concentrate our attention on the gifts of others, allowing them to serve. 

If we are recognized, there is nothing wrong with that, but we should also help others be recognized when they serve well.

There is a negative example of that in the Gospels. One time, the disciples of Jesus got into an argument about which of them was the greatest - the most important - in their church family. Remember Jesus’ answer? “The greatest is the one who humbles himself.”

Here is how that can be done. It comes from Philippians 2, beginning with verse 3.

First, “do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves.” I do not think that teaches that we are to put ourselves down, as in constantly criticize ourselves. In fact, it seems to me there needs to be some self-confidence in order to do much of anything, including ministry. But our thoughts must fall short of pride, and our purposes must be help others and to glorify God rather than ourselves. It includes looking for opportunities to let others serve in ways God has called them to serve.

Second, “let each of us look not only to our own interests.” There is nothing wrong with being involved with our own interests. Being disinterested in ourselves is not what this teaches. But we are to look, not only at our own well-being, “but also to the interests of others,” the purpose being that together we grow in our faith and in our service to the Lord.

How about some examples of honoring one another in our church family ?

We recently had a going away reception for our church accompanist , thanking him for his years of serving the Lord with us via music and fellowship and many other ways. I hope he felt honored by us.

In the Newsletters there is occasionally an Honor Roll section. Recently high school graduates were listed, along with one who gave much of her hair to a program that uses hair for wigs for children suffering from cancer. One was honored for earning a spot on the Dean’s List at UNL. Another was recognized for being inducted into the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet another was recognized for being a guest lecturer at Creighton University. 

One more Bible passage for this sermon series. Galatians 5:22-23. “The fruit of the Spirit [things that are to be evident in the lives of those who are Christians] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Isn’t it interesting how many of those things are also descriptions of what we are to do as a family? Our church family will love, pray for, and serve one another. Our church family will tell the truth, be patient with, and forgive one another. Our church family will be kind to one another. Our church family will bring joy to each other. Our church family will honor each other. All of which takes self-control.

May we be happy those statements already describe our church family. May we work and pray to keep those statements relevant to us.

Throughout this three-part series of sermons, the closing song has been We Are God’s People. To match the theme, we have changed it to We Are God’s Family

That amended song will be used again today. As we recite, let’s rejoice that we do have love, prayers, and service in our church family, that we do have truth, patience, and forgiveness in our church family, and, as we have discussed today, that we are kind, that we do share joy, that we do honor each other. Let’s be dedicated to continuing all that.

We Are God’s Family.

We are God’s family, the chosen of the Lord,

Born of His Spirit, established by His Word;

Our cornerstone is Christ alone,

And strong in Him we stand:

O let us live transparently,

And walk heart to heart and hand in hand.

We are God’s family, the Bride of Christ our Lord,

For we have known it, the love of God out-poured;

Now let us learn how to return 

The gift of love once given:

O let us share each joy and care,

And live with a zeal that pleases Heaven.

We are the family of which the Lord is Head,

Called to obey Him, now risen from the dead;

He wills us be a family,

Diverse yet truly one:

O let us give our gifts to God,

And so shall His work on earth be done.

Our church family will - say them with me - love, pray, serve, tell the truth, be patient, forgive, be kind, bring joy, honor each other. 

Lord, thank You for helping all that to already be evident. Help us to keep all that going - for our good, so others will know this church family is Christian, and for Your glory. Amen.

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